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Ok, we'll try banning them for a while.



If enough people like a Valleywag article (vote it up) there is not reason it should not be displayed. If you don't like it simply don't vote.

Paul, In your article on Bayesian spam filters (I didn't read the essay since before joining YC aka several years) You mentioned rules based systems only work up to a point. Today it's Valleywag (I don't care about the site one way or the other) tomorrow your getting requests to ban half a dozen sites per day. I think that instead of banning a specific site a better solution is to make the algorithm better.


You're correct in that a better system could be implemented than a manual blacklist, but, as my old boss always used to say, "some progress is better than no progress". Although it is nice, you don't need to get fancy when simple things satisfy your needs.

I think you can't really rely on people to withhold their votes when the content is engineered to take advantage of the human psyche.

Could a bayesian filter really separate fact and fiction? Cross-correlated ancedote and rumour? Satire and sensationalism? Humans struggle. Maybe one day...

The community doesn't seem to be able to correct itself, so if the content starts to veer away from the site's original principles, some external force is needed to gently nudge it back on track.

All that said, I don't really have a considered opinion on whether or not blacklisting Valleywag is a good thing; it is not something that I care much about.


Right now the poll is 55% in favor of banning. Banning an entire organization is rather unprecedented, so I'd suggest we wait for a bit more of a consensus before going ahead with it.


It's not unprecedented. There are other sites that are banned, mainly because they spammed us or consist mainly of linkjacked content. I only asked this time because users occasionally vote up Valleywag stories.


They aren't spamming new.yc nor does it consist mainly of linkjacked content. I can understand that people have problems with some of their content, but then just don't vote it up. It's as simple as that. To ban a site entirely that does have some legitimate content simply because you don't like it is a very bad precedent to set.


Thank you.

Even though it seems to do what it aims to do well, its ultimate goal == to sell advertising by creating sensationalist headlines and feeding the egos of people who have (or who nurture through Valleywag mentions) a grotesque vanity complex == is hardly original or noteworthy. Most hackers go out of their way to _avoid_ spotlight, so I think for the most part Valleywag is just digital GIGO. Occasionally almost humorous, but GIGO nonetheless.


Could you just add the ability to blacklist domains on a per-user basis? That way I could personally blacklist valleywag.com and nytimes.com if I wanted to, while others could enjoy their linkbait if they wanted.

Blacklisting would simply not show me stories with given string in the url.


I thought of that, but the goal here is not to evolve into a site that's everything to everyone, like Reddit or Digg. We want to have the best collection of links for hackers. So we can't duck decisions like this.

We shouldn't expect never to have to ban a site if both (a) we want to make News.YC be about a specific topic, and (b) there are sites with a deliberate strategy of linkbaiting.


I don't think this would fracture the community much and it would probably do a tremendous thing to improve the signal to noise ratio for me personally. Not everyone has the same measure of what is 'signal' and what is 'noise', so I wouldn't want to impose my blacklist on them, and I'm not voting this stuff up anyway, so it's not like I'd be affecting other users by just not seeing some things. Even only being allowed three blacklisted links would be huge for me.

But honestly, not too passionate about this either way, just throwing in my two cents.

Edit: Wrote a cheapo greasemonkey script to do this... http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/25039


What good is the best collection of links if it is not easily searchable? Is there a reason you're avoiding this functionality?



I'd rather see news.YC figure out how to be a coherent community than fracture into different interest groups.


This is the worst mistake you have ever made regarding this community.

Censorship is not the answer, ever.


It is definitely sometimes the answer. You wouldn't like News.YC if spam submissions weren't "censored," for example.

Though in fact I do have a new plan for dealing with cases like Valleywag (suggested by Nick Grandy of Wundrbar): instead of simply banning linkbait sites, I'm going to try semi-banning them by requiring them to get more points to make it onto the frontpage. That sounds right: they're semi-spam, so semi-ban them.


Have you considered a bell curve?

- At one end: the posts from new/under-participatory users, where spam and linkbait is more likely.

- At the other: the posts to popular domains.

What I love about HN is that it manages to uncover interesting content from all over, but I am inclined to believe this is due to its current user base. With an algorithm in place that reinforces this behavior, I think we can continue to grow in the right direction.

I believe the first point may already factor in, but does the second?

The solution could be relatively simple: the more "popular" a domain name is, the more votes a submission requires to become "relevant."

Popularity could be determined a number of ways, at least using the number of submissions under the same domain, and perhaps the average number of votes the domain receives. The actual formula would take some tweaking over time.

In theory, a site with multiple submissions, like Valleywag or TechCrunch, would require more universal and active interest to warrant a front-page appearance. Valleywag (the more volatile of the two), would probably fade away, whereas the interesting TechCrunch articles would still come through.


Blatant spam should obviously be censored, but Valleywag is not "spam." There is at least a sliver of good content over there, and it's on topic.

I like the idea of requiring sites like XKCD, Valleywag, TechCrunch, and others to get more votes to make it to the front page. When that's implemented, will you then un-ban Valleywag?


How is that not censorship? You aren't such a hardliner after all, are you?


It allows exceptional stories to pass through the filter. That's a form of censorship, but it's only censoring the spammy, linkbait articles.

So, like Paul said, I guess there IS a time when censorship in the answer, and it's for obvious spam.


If you find a great story there you've absolutely got to share, maybe you could look at this as an opportunity to find a second source for it.


Your mailbox is not filtered for spam then?

If you have a blog, you do not prevent or delete comment spam?


Yeah I'd say a suspension would be more appropriate. Let it expire silently in 6 months or something and see if anything worthwhile starts showing up.




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